Many of us dream about being up close and personal with some of the world’s most beautiful creatures. Elephants, dolphins, tigers and more, the chance to be able to be up close and personal is the stuff dreams are made of for any animal lover, and certainly were for me as a child. Sadly, this dream has become more of a nightmare, thanks to the animal tourism trade across the world.
Whether it’s the elephant on the news that died from carrying too many tourists on its back or the video of a worker punching a tiger at Tiger Kingdom, animals in holiday destinations across the world are being treated more and more like mere backdrops for selfies.
Just today I saw a post of Facebook that made my blood BOIL. Following the success of cat cafes and the like, a café in Bangkok has started an ‘exotic pet’ café, words which should never be in the same sentence together. As well as meerkats and wild foxes, there are raccoons and cats all living in one tiny café in one of the busiest cities on the world.
Aside from it being highly likely that those who run this café have no idea how to look after and care for wild animals, they may as well be paying those in the exotic pet industry with their earnings. How many customers will love their experience and be inspired to go and buy their own? How many animals will be stolen, transported and mauled for someone to have his or her very own wild pet?
How shallow can you get?
What pisses me off most by far however, is the blatant disregard by those who choose to go and support this café. Reviews on Facebook praise the clean café and the delicious food, posting pictures of their own time there. How fucking sad does your life have to be and how shallow as a person, for you to go and give money to a company that keeps wild animals, used to thousands of miles of their own space, in a tiny café?
And what for? A fucking latte and an Instagram post? How far back as a society have we become that people are that blind and ignorant? Sadly this is just one of many examples how animals are simply mere commodities to so many thanks to the animal tourism trade.
However, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. Social media may be a bastard at encouraging some animal tourism, but is also a fantastic tool at exposing others. The truth about tigers being doped and elephants being overworked is finally becoming common knowledge across the internet, with many posting pleas for people to please not support these activities.
It’s time for people to open their eyes
Yet with tourism in places like Thailand only increasing, these rare and majestic creatures are being exploited for their beauty and their appeal. By people who have to regard for how they’re treated and are only interested in money, and for people who are too shallow to look beneath the surface.
Sadly, a girl I went to school with recently posted a drugged up tiger selfie and someone I work with expressed how much they want to visit the exotic pet café, so looks like the world is still full of idiots after all.
If you’re as desperate as I am to see the worlds most gorgeous creatures for yourself, make sure for their sake that you do it responsibly. Visit only respected and trusted sanctuaries, ignore like the plague any Tiger Kingdoms or Elephant Rides, and do not put an animal’s wellbeing at risk for a shitty selfie.
See them in the wild, their natural habitats, where they’re naturally meant to be and not manhandled by tourists who are willing to do anything to show off to friends back home. Animal tourism doesn’t need to be a thing. It’s just called being a decent human being.